In the "Titanic," Slavitt does not use any symbols to portray his message. Slavitt gives a straight forward message as if he is relaying his own feelings without his words having multiple meanings.
David Slavitt's use of irony and symbolism within his narrative poem, takes you on a ride aboard the Titanic, describing the excitement and fame of being a part of its history, regardless of the tragic ending, and adds the comfort in knowing that, at least, these people were able to go down together. Slavitt hides beneath the surface of this poem, an allegory pointing out man's own selfish needs and desires to gain recognition and fame in their lives, regardless of the cost, and adds an even more subtle message about our society's view on people's status and how the prestigious and wealthy gain the right, priority and honor to keep on living.
In Titanic, David Slavitt uses verbal irony in the very first line of his poem, and also uses structural irony throughout the rest of the poem. He makes a bold, opening statement of "Who does not love the Titanic?" which has a reverse meaning that says that there could be VERY GOOD REASONS WHY someone would NOT love the Titanic!
There is irony in "who would not buy?" as probably every single passenger who was on that ship would not (out of total fear), or could not (because they have died), ever buy a ticket to go on the ship again, but it is a deeper statement over the importance man puts on prestige and fame; in this case, simply by giving up their lives.
Slavitt also makes death on the Titanic with the crowds of high class, seem like it is the only way to die. He seems to state that it is better to go with a crowd than to die alone; Ah! He also appears to criticize wealth, selfishness, possessions and social class on this historically publicized event.
Slavitt mentions how a tragedy such as this would "cause the world to mourn, as it ought to do," but adds direct irony in scolding us by continuing his statement saying, "and almost never does." Perhaps he is speaking of human nature, where so many people, hearing of a tragedy in the world, do tend to quickly dismiss it and go on with their own lives if they are not directly affected by it.
With his last line, Slavitt closes with irony in saying, "We all go: only a few, first class." Here he is stating, and stressing by mixing his sentence structure up too, the imbalance and tragedies of our social class structure, criticizing the "we" claim, which, in fact, became the death of the poorer classes over the wealthier, more prestigious people who were saved.